‘Load of rubbish’ - row as MP claiming credit for new Wetherspoons deal
PUBLISHED: 12:06 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:06 28 February 2020
An MP’s claims that he “led the charge” in bringing a national pub chain to a Norfolk town have been branded “a load of rubbish”.
Plans to open a Wetherspoons in North Walsham have moved a step closer to fruition as the council said it had exchanged paperwork with the company.
But after Conservative MP Duncan Baker, who launched a petition calling for the pub to be delivered, welcomed the move, he was criticised by councillors for taking credit for the step forward.
At a meeting of North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) held on Wednesday, February 26, Mr Baker asked for an update on the situation with Wetherspoons.
Richard Kershaw, economic development cabinet member, said: "A further meeting has been had with Wetherspoons. I'm pleased to report they have increased their offer."
He added: "Heads of terms have been exchanged and we're just waiting for their agreement and signing the contract."
The paperwork exchanged is not legally binding, and is also known as a letter of intent.
Mr Kershaw's announcement was met with cheers and applause in the council chamber.
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And Greg Hayman, cabinet member for commercialisation, added: "Your administration failed to close a deal with Wetherspoons in six years."
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Baker said: "They can't look themselves in the mirror and think they didn't have a huge amount of pressure to deliver this.
"We asked the public in North Walsham what they wanted and they demanded a Wetherspoons.
"They wanted a family-friendly eatery to bring the building back into life."
He added: "I'm absolutely delighted that the pressure I've put on this administration has finally delivered it.
"It just shows never give up and eventually you'll get somewhere.
"I'm not going to take the entire credit - my colleagues supported me. But I'm very happy to be the person who led the charge and I'm looking forward to a pint there."
But council leader Sarah Butikofer hit back at Mr Baker's claims, and said: ""It's a load of rubbish. It had nothing to do with the petition.
"We've always said it had to be a business that was right for the people of North Walsham."
Finance cabinet member Eric Seward added: "We have never been against JD Wetherspoon provided we get the right terms."